Let Addie Hanson of Wooly Pronto guide you through how to design seamless repeat patterns in Procreate.
Addie is a "full-time dabbler" with an extensive background in design and creative entrepreneurship whose goal is to help designers develop a passion for the process of creating. She'll be doing just that in this guide, from start till finish. Get your iPads at the ready and prepare yourselves for a lesson jam-packed with value!
You can follow along using these free resources!
Make sure to give the full session a watch and let us know what you think in the comments below!
1. Getting prepped
Although Addie has included a pre-made canvas for us in her freebie files (which we will be using later on) she first wants to show us how to set up a blank canvas with saved selections.
From her gallery, she selects the standard square canvas size from the pre-selections in this list, so it’s 2048x2048 and 300dpi. Because Procreate is primarily a drawing program, it lacks some of the tools you would typically want when creating patterns - for example, alignment tools! However, by using a few clever tricks, we’re going to be able to create repeating patterns that are perfectly aligned, without the need to estimate placement.
2. Setting up a canvas
We’ll just need one layer to set this up. To start off, you'll drag a color to fill the entire screen.
Then, tap the transform tool up here.
Before we transform anything, we’ll need to make sure that the transform setting is on Uniform, so it will scale proportionately, and that magnetics are turned on, so it will snap into place.
You will also want to be sure that interpolation is set to Bilinear. This essentially dictates how the pixels will render as you move and scale them. Setting it to Bilinear will ensure the least distortion.
Now, grab one of the corner nodes - start with the lower right corner. Drag inward toward the center, reducing the scale until the square snaps to 50% scale. This is how you’ll be able to ensure an absolutely crisp quadrant, which will ensure your repeats will be totally seamless.
From here, tap the transform arrow to release the square.
Then, in the layers panel, select the layer contents.
You can do this a couple of different ways - 1) you can tap the layer to bring up the side menu, and choose select...
...or, use two fingers to press and hold on the layer until the contents become selected.
Once the lower toolbar appears, tap “save and load”, and then tap the plus sign to save this selection.
Tap the selection tool to exit the selection.
Now we’re going to repeat this process for the remaining quadrants! You’ll essentially be doing the same thing you did previously for the rest of the 3 quadrants.
Use color drop in the empty space outside this square to fill the rest of the layer. Then tap the transform tool to scale the layer contents, this time dragging from the lower left corner.
Snap to 50% scale, and then tap the transform tool once more to release the object. Then in the layers panel, select the layer contents, and then save this as your second selection.
Repeat the same process for the last two quadrants.
Please Note: say you shift the layer slightly, or scale down a bit without snapping to 50%. If you accidentally do this, it’s best to go back and undo any of those moves, rather than pushing forward to try to correct them. Even the slightest shift or misalignment can throw off the precision of the scale, and result in a seam in your pattern later on.
Once you have your four selections, you can clear this layer.
Now, before we dive into using the pre-made canvas, we're going to run through the steps here on a simplified pattern. First, we're adding in a second layer, and then selecting both of these layers and grouping them together.
Then, we're going to color drop to fill the bottom layer.
Moving on to the second layer, we're using a color purple, and the Vincent Painter brush from The Instant Artist Procreate Brushes and Stamps.
For this simple pattern, we're going to draw repeating plus signs.
Please Note: You’ll generally want to distribute the elements of your pattern across the canvas, but a key thing to remember is to stay away from the edges. You can get close, but don’t draw over the edge.
Now that we have this pretty much filled with our pattern, we're going to flip the quadrants to create the actual repeating part.
3. Flipping the quadrants
To do this, click on the layers panel...
... collapse the group, and then, keeping it selected, tap the selection tool.
Then on the toolbar, tap Save and Load, and load Selection 1.
From here, tap the Transform tool, and instead of moving or scaling anything, we’re just going to tap on this bottom bar here to flip this horizontally, and then flip vertically.
Then tap the transform tool once more to release the selection. This flips the pattern so the outside corner becomes the inside corner.
Now we’re going to repeat for the remaining three quadrants. Once they’re all flipped, you can go back into the layer group, and move the elements around, or add more, to perfect the pattern.
Then, to test it out and see how it looks repeated, what we're going to do is duplicate the layer group...
... and then tap to bring up the side menu, and select “flatten”. This becomes our test layer.
Then we're going to duplicate this test layer 3 more times...
... so we now have four total flattened layers.
Then, just as before, we're going to go into our transform tool, and scale this down until it snaps to 50%. This, again, is an easier way of aligning the pattern, without having to do any guesswork, or move anything around. Repeat this for the other 3 test layers.
So you can see, once we're done, the seams are totally invisible. That’s the nice thing about using the magnetics and uniform - it’s totally precise.
4. Now for the fun stuff...
Now we’re switching back to work in the pre-made canvas, which is set up with selections already saved and has layers for what we’re specifically painting.
We're going to go ahead and hide the guide reference layer. Because this canvas already has the saved selections, we can just jump right into creating the pattern.
On the background layer, we're going to color drop to fill the layer with this light peach color.
Then moving to our Clouds layer, we're using a white color, and for our brush we're using the Big Fat Pencil from The Instant Artist Procreate Brushes and Stamps. We'll have the brush size set to 30%.
This brush is super pressure sensitive, so at this size, we're able to create these larger puffy clouds, and also these narrow tapered bits on the ends.
We're going to reposition these a bit using the transform tool. Our goal when making pattern repeats is to always have a relatively even distribution of elements across the canvas. Sometimes that’s hard to judge when you’re drawing them out, so it helps to separate your elements out onto several different layers so you have room to move and adjust them at any point.
Now we're going to switch to a grey and paint in some darker clouds.
Next, we're moving up to our Starbursts layer, and we're going to duplicate this one because we're going to separate out the linework and the color fill of these next elements. If you have limited layers, you can paint these all in one.
Starting on the upper layer, we're using white and the Deliciously Inky brush from The Instant Artist Procreate Brushes and Stamps.
We're setting the brush size here to about 2%.
We're drawing in little planets and star elements, starting with a circle, then a little crescent, some stars. Next we're drawing in a bunch of smaller circles for little bubbles. Prints and patterns are fun because you can mix a bunch of different elements, and play with some abstract shapes. So here we’re going for a dreamy, whimsical look, so the elements don’t have to make sense.
Now we're going to move down to our lower Starburst layer.
With this darker orange-yellow color, still on the Deliciously Inky brush, we're filling all these shapes so it looks like there’s a liquid inside them. We're filling these about half-way, and then curving the top edge slightly.
Next, we're going to work on an empty layer beneath this one - again, if you have layer constraints, you can do this all on the same layer.
We're using a darker color to draw in the depth and surface area of this liquid fill.
Moving down to the Leaves layer, we're using a softer green color and switching to the Grungy Pencil.
With our brush size set to about 1%, we're going to sketch in some little sprigs of greenery.
Next, moving down to the Splotches layer, we're going to use a purple color and we'll be switching to a pattern brush from this set. The Instant Artist Procreate Brushes and Stamps has a bunch of pattern brushes that can be fun to incorporate into your own pattern, as abstract elements. It can be good way to fill up the space of the pattern.
We're using this Spot Marks brush. We're trying to scatter these evenly across the canvas, layering some of them on top of the clouds.
Now we're going to switch to the Leafy pattern brush and on the same color add in some clusters of these leaves.
To make these look a little more natural, we're going to use the eraser tool, on the Big Fat Pencil brush, to clean up any sharp edges and to remove any partial leaves.
Now that the canvas is pretty much full of elements, we're going to go back in and add some texture. We're doing this with clipping mask layers, starting above the Clouds. So we're adding a new layer, clipping it, and then...
... changing the blend mode to multiply.
Then we're duplicating this layer and changing the blend mode of the upper clipping mask to Overlay.
Then on the Multiply clipping mask, we're going to select the Build Up Powder Puff brush. We'll have the size here set to 13%.
With a purple color, we're going to softly stamp in this texture at the base of the clouds.
Then we're going to select this yellow, and moving up to our Overlay clipping mask we're stamping in this texture along the lower right side.
Then above our grey clouds, we're going to do the same - create two clipping masks, changing the bottom to multiply and the upper to Overlay. Follow the same steps to do this as before.
On the multiply layer, we're going to use this darker grey, and still on the Powder Puff brush we're stamping this along the bottoms.
Then switching to the yellow, on the overlay layer, adding this on the right side of the clouds.
Then moving to the Splotches layer, we're only going to add in one clipping mask for this and set the blend mode to Multiply.
We're going to use a purple to add in some variation to the leaves.
Then above the green leaves, we're adding two clipping masks again, with the blend modes set to multiply and overlay just as before.
On the Multiply layer, we're going to use this darker green color, and we're decreasing our brush size to have a little more control here. This texture we're stamping in mainly along the stems, and letting it fade out gradually towards the leaves.
Then on the overlay layer, with a light green, we're doing the same but to add some lighter texture along the edges here.
Now, we're going to merge the two yellow fill layers together so we can treat them as one.
Then we're adding two clipping masks above this, blend modes set to Multiply and Overlay like before, and we're using a darker orange-yellow color to add some texture along the bottom of these.
On the overlay layer, with a lighter yellow, we're stamping in this texture on the top side of this.
One last step here, before we make this pattern repeating. We're going to go into the top Starburst layer where our white line work is, and using the Big Fat Pencil, we're going to add some shiny reflections in all of the bubbles and shapes.
Now we can do the steps to flip the pattern around and create a repeat! So we're collapsing this layer group, and keeping the group selected in the layers panel, we're going to tap on the selection tool, tap “save and load” and choose the Selection 1.
Then tap the transform tool, and tap flip horizontal and flip vertical. Then we're repeating this for each of the remaining selections.
Now we're rotating the canvas since it turns upside down.
So you can see where you might want to move elements around, or add more in. This is where it’s nice to have maintained all the layers separately.
Please note: To move things around, make sure you select both the element and the clipping masks within the layers panel, so that everything moves together. So to move some of these bubbles, we're selecting the outlines, clipping masks, and the fill layers before starting to rearrange the elements.
With the layers selected, we're using the freehand selection tool to draw around the elements we want to move...
... and then the transform tool to move it. We're focusing on filling up the empty space of this cross section, which will help make the pattern repeat appear more even and consistent.
We're continuing to move some of these elements around, being sure to select all the corresponding clipping masks with the layer itself.
Now to test the pattern repeat. If you are running out of layers, you can make a copy of the entire canvas, and then flatten the layer group in the duplicate, like so:
If you have the space for more layers, you can simply duplicate the entire layer group, and then flatten the duplicate group into one layer.
Then hide the lower layer group and duplicate the flattened layer to create four copies.
Using the transform tool, we can scale each layer until it snaps to 50%, in each of the four quadrants of the canvas.
That is it. Your final piece is ready to share with the Design Cuts community – seriously, post it. We would love to see what you have learnt and how you have been inspired. To join a community of incredible creatives and share your work, explore the fastest growing Procreate Facebook group in the world.